Sunday, May 17, 2009

Lullaby follow-up

Thank you to everyone for the great comments and discussion regarding yesterday's post on lullabies being played at the hospital. I especially thank those of you who shared some very personal recollections of their own losses.

A few follow-up comments.

As far as the hospital's motivation, JB had a talk with the colonel in charge of instituting the new policy back when he first heard about this in '07. I can assure you that her intentions were very pure. She thought it would make the hospital happier, more upbeat, focus on the good things that were occurring there -- that sort of thing. I have no doubt that her intentions were good ones. She respected JB's opinion to the contrary but definitely believed that the lullabies would serve the greater good. My post does not second guess her intentions whatsoever. I don't think anyone is intending to hurt anyone here.

Secondly, as I read all the comments, I think I realized what this issue is really all about. It's about location. The issue really boils down to where you celebrate. It would be completely inappropriate to celebrate a wedding at a funeral. It would be considered poor sportsmanship for a winning team to go and celebrate at the losing team's school.

It isn't that those who have a baby should feel guilty or fail to celebrate. By all means, celebrate like crazy! However, it would not be appropriate to celebrate the birth of a baby at an infertility meeting. It would not be appropriate to celebrate the birth of a baby at the funeral of one who had just passed away. I think that is what this all really boils down to. Location and appropriateness of the celebration. A hospital is a place where there is a lot of sadness. Some may argue (and most likely this is what hospital staff were thinking) that the lullabies would lighten the mood in the hospital. Opponents would argue that they hurt those that are already hurting.

Life is beautiful. I do not think you will talk to one gal struggling with infertility who would say that baby showers should be eliminated. They think baby showers and birthday parties and baby dedications are amazing events. Their sadness is that they don't get to participate in those events themselves, not that those events should not occur. I think that is a very important point to understand. People who are celebrating should in NO WAY not feel that they can celebrate. They should not feel guilty for celebrating. They should celebrate the amazing gift of life. But doing so in the correct venue is very important.

I liked my friend Ebby's post last year regarding the lullabies. She didn't like them when she was in the hospital because they woke her up! That's reason enough to get rid of them.

Thank you for the polite and insightful comments regarding this topic. I do not fault anyone who disagrees with me on this topic. It's a touchy one. But since it is my blog, I do get the last word! Ha! Maybe I need to communicate with my husband via blog.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Lullaby update

It was back in September of 2007, nearly two years ago, that I wrote a post about lullabies played in the hospital. JB had gotten wind that Eglin was thinking of implementing the "lullaby after baby is born" policy in their hospital. He was adamantly against its inclusion in his place of employment.

Back then, things were different for us. We had just faced IVF negative #4. We had gotten on China's adoption list. We had accepted the fact that biological children were probably something we would never have.

Fast forward to today. May 2009. A lot has changed. We have two boys. One from my body. One from Bri's.

And yet I am still, adamantly, against those darned lullabies.

Yesterday we went up to the hospital for Isaac to get his 12-month shots. As Daryl Hannah (... okay, so she's not really Daryl Hannah, but I think she looks like Daryl, so we call her that every time we go in ... not to her face of course ... although I don't think being called Daryl Hannah is offensive, is it?) ... Anyways ... as Daryl Hannah was putting my information in the computer, I heard it.

A lullaby.

Let me preface this post by saying that I totally respect those of you who don't agree with me. We had a great "comment discussion" about this back in September. I respect those of you who think the lullaby is a nice inclusion in a hospital.

I, however, am not one of them.

So back to my story. Daryl typing. Lullaby plays. I scrunch my nose. Daryl looks up from computer and smiles.

"What was that?" I asked even though I already knew.

"A lullaby," she said. "It means a baby has been born in the hospital."

"Are they playing those now?" I asked. "Every time a baby is born?"

"Yep. Isn't it great?"

I thought about nodding and smiling, but I just couldn't do it. I had to be honest.

"I don't really think so," I said.

Daryl looked visibly shocked.

"I don't know," I began. "I mean, it's wonderful that a baby has been born, but at the same time their room is celebrating, there are other women in the hospital who just got difficult news."

I listed all the possibilities. Finding out you had a miscarriage. Having a doctor tell you that your full-term baby has passed away (something JB had to do recently). Being told that you'll never have children. Getting a negative pregnancy test -- again. Being told your own child has passed away or has a terminal illness and might die.

"What about all those women?" I asked Daryl. "How would they feel?"

Daryl nodded and said she understood my point. "But if I couldn't have kids," she started, "I would just adopt."

I knew enough from past conversations with Daryl that this wasn't the case. She had told me tons about her own children and even made the comment that sneezing made her pregnant. And she had pictures on the wall behind her to prove how true that was.

I again contemplated keeping my mouth shut. But I went on. "He's adopted," I said, rubbing the top of Isaac's head. "I love him like crazy. And Elijah," I said, nodding my head toward the waiting room where he and JB were waiting, "Is an incredible blessing. But I spent five years trying to have kids. I can't imagine how painful it would have been for me to listen to a lullaby play 2, 3, 4 times a day."

Daryl was kind even though I could tell she thought I had jumped way overboard on the topic. I didn't care. I was hurting so badly inside. I was thinking of all my friends who are still waiting on children. I was thinking of people JB works with who come to that hospital every single day. And every single day they would be reminded that someone else just got what they dream of having. I was thinking of our friends who just moved and how glad I was that they moved before they had to hear this.

I walked out of the shot room with a screaming Isaac, and as JB scooped him into his arms he looked at me and said, "Did you hear the lullaby?"

The look on my face told him I had.

"I'm writing a letter," he said. "To someone." It wouldn't do any good I told him, but he didn't care.

We talked all the way out to the van. All the way back to our house. We both acknowledged that it wasn't just those people still waiting that we hurt for. The lullaby reminded us, somehow, of those years of pain. Those years that that song would have been a painful reminder. JB said it would have been so hard for him to hear that at work everyday, even as the guy, while I waited at home, with empty arms.

To those of you still waiting, I am sorry for any pain reminders bring you. To those of you who disagree with me, I totally respect that.

However, I just had to write this. I just had to say something about it to someone.

Thanks for listening.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mother's Day

Tomorrow is Mother's Day.

It's strange that this holiday -- a holiday that I have wanted for so long to celebrate -- is now a holiday that I celebrate cautiously, tenderly, with a strange combination of contentment for myself and pain for others in my heart.

I celebrate this way because I know what it is like for this holiday to hurt. And, in a strange way, it is a holiday that still hurts.

I could list ten names, twenty, maybe thirty. Women who will not go to church tomorrow. The flowers on the blouses and the acknowledgment by standing during service of moms will be too painful for them to watch and partake in.

For four years, we skipped church on the Sunday. We found solace in our canoe trips. Miles away from families and flowers and pain. We'd pack a lunch and go off jut the two of us. They were quiet days. We both knew why we were canoeing. But we didn't talk about. We talked about the birds and the fish and the beautiful Minnesota weather that had finally fallen upon us.

My own mother understood that while I tried to celebrate her, my own pain was so great, it was difficult to acknowledge that this day even existed. It was selfish of me. But it was something I couldn't escape from.

For some, the day will be doubly hard. Many churches use the occasion to celebrate new life. with baby dedications. As one of my friends said once, "Stab me twice. Mother's Day and Baby Dedication Sunday all wrapped up into one." The two hardest things to participate in at church celebrated on one day.

So many weeks I'd leave church, holding back my tears, only to sit down in the passenger seat in the car and find myself flooded by everything I had held inside.

Instead of skipping church, many women will brave it. They will sit through church. And they will fight that lump in their throat the entire time. They will look back over the last year, two, five, ten of their lives. They will recount their journey. They will watch mothers sitting with their children. They will wish that they were among them. They will try to be happy for others. They will go to lunch with their own mom. But it will hurt. Later that night, they'll crawl into bed and finally give themselves permission to grieve what they do not have.

They will probably feel guilty, as I did. Guilty that I was unable to even celebrate my own mother in the way she deserved to be celebrated on that day because my hurt was so great. That one day was a culmination of everything I wanted and everything I did not have.

It isn't just infertile women I think of on Mother's Day. It's single gals who wish they were married. Wish they had children. It's children who have recently lost their mother. It's someone who just lost a child or had a miscarriage. It's a range of individuals.

Don't get me wrong. We can't go through life avoiding celebrating. Each holiday brings someone pain, for some reason or another. Mother's Day was created for all the right reasons. And mothers everywhere deserve to have at least one day a year that they are reminded they are doing a good job.

Last year on Mother's Day I was in a mini-van, driving back from Fort Lauderdale with our two day old Isaac in the car. I came home to flowers and decorations from my dear wifia gals -- celebrating with me the child we had waited for for so long. It was Mother's Day. And I was a mom. At long last.

This year on Mother's Day my husband is in Texas. However, he left a present for me. Hidden. He said I had to have Isaac show me where it is. Isaac doesn't seem so willing to share the location. I may have to ask JB to give me a few hints.

I feel amazingly blessed that I am a mother. I am so amazingly thankful. And yet I also, still, have such a heavy heart for those men and women who will be sad tomorrow. Those individuals who will be grieving the loss of a loved one. The loss of a dream. The loss of a child.

My online friend Stacy has travelled the same road as me. Her road was not plagued by IVFs that did not work. Her's were even harder. Two miscarriages. Then adoption. And now, a little girl, poised to make her debut very soon. She wrote a piece for her church bulletin about just this topic. She writes:

Today, Mother’s Day 2009, I could celebrate that my future will hold children just 11 months apart. I could celebrate that my battle with infertility has come to an end. But instead, today I choose to celebrate that God restored my soul…before he restored my circumstances. I celebrate that he healed my heart. I celebrate freedom from the bondage of bitterness. I celebrate the blessing of waiting on the Lord.

I pray that I am able to do the same tomorrow. I pray that we are all able to remember those individuals sitting next to us, in front of us, behind us in church who are sitting in pain. For those couple at the booth behind you at the restaurant who have no children. For your friend who lost her mother. For you neighbor who was recently divorced and is grieving her loss of a husband and the loss of future children.

I ask all of you remember those individuals. Even if you choose not to address it publicly with them, please pray for them tomorrow. To those of you reading this post who are still dreaming of children, I will be praying for you tomorrow.

You know who you are. I don't need to say your names.

The entire day. I will be praying. I will be praying that the Lord gives you peace. I will be praying that the Lord gives your heart rest.

I will be praying that the Lord gives you the deepest desires of your heart.